Thursday, February 28, 2013


Aberdeen-born Michael Sim shot a one-over-par 73 and senior Hale Irwin, the only American in the field, had an 80 in the first round of the New Zealand PGA Championship at The Hills Golf Club, Queenstown.
Sim, one-time ranked the World No 1 amateur before he turned pro and had his career blighted by a back injury, was going well when he recovered from a bogey at the second to birdie the third, fifth, long 13th and 14th.
Then came the slide. He bogeyed the 15th, double-bogeyed the short 16th and also bogeyed the 18th for 38 home. Sim is lying T76 in a starting field of 144 players.  
 Irwin did not have a single birdie on his card which included double bogeys at he 12th and 14th.

Australians Adam Bland, Aaron Townsend and Matthew Ballard have taken the first round lead at the NZ PGA Championship being played at The Hills.
Firing rounds of 6-under 66 the trio lead by one from a pack of eight players including defending champion Michael Hendry.
Taking advantage of the early conditions, Townsend achieved the score with a bogey free round but believed he left some birdies out on course.
“It was very lucky to start well - we had perfect conditions this morning so it was nice just to make six birdies and no bogeys, it was a pretty stress free round.”
“I played really good on my front nine - I hit it to 10 feet probably four times that I then missed, but I was hitting good putts so I wasn’t too disappointed.”
“I just knew to stay patient and they’d eventually find the bottom.”
Townsend comes into the NZ PGA Championship in good form having finished inside the top-10 at last week’s Victorian Open Championship.
“I played good last week but the putter didn’t really get hot until the last day so it’s nice to bring a bit of that with me this week.”
“I have struggled with the course in the past so I’m hoping that will be the end of that.”
At the other end of the spectrum 35-year-old Matthew Ballard has struggled recently with his form, having missed the cut at his last four PGA Tour of Australasia tournaments.
“It’s been a little rough if I am honest,” said Ballard.
“But golf is a funny thing, you never know what’s around the corner - I keep telling myself that and the proof is in the pudding today.”
Ballard’s round has highlighted by two consecutive eagles on the par 5 17th and par 4 18th.
“Sometimes you go a few weeks or months without an eagle so two in a row certainly bolstered the scorecard,” said Ballard who started on the back nine.
“The 17th was a really good second shot to get it to the back of the green and I hit a really nice putt that went in.”
“The last hole I had a really good yardage for my 7 iron - as soon as I hit it, it just looked like it was going straight at the pin and it landed perfect, rolled up and straight in.”
Finishing late in the day Adam Bland had a dream eight hole stretch, from the 15th to the 4th, that included an eagle, six birdies and just one par.
“I had a shaky start, and then holed an eagle putt from just off the green on 15, hit a few close but other than that the putter just started working,” said Bland.
“I didn’t really give myself too many birdie opportunities coming in through the last five, it would have been nice to get a couple more but I am not unhappy with 6-under that’s for sure.”
The leaderboard is congested at the end of the first round with eight players on 5-under the card and a further 10 players, including five-time Japan Tour winner Toshinori Muto, on 4-under the card.





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